Two Students Arrested For Hacking School Network to Alter Grades

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Two 18-year-old high-school students from Southern California were arrested after allegedly gaining unauthorized access to the school’s computer network in an effort to change student grades.

The grades of some 120 San Dimas High School students were changed in the grade hack, the school’s principal reported. Some students whose grades were changed during the hack worried their grades may have been altered for the worse. Of those interviewed, many hoped the two hackers grade change did not affect their chances of getting into college.

The pair or San Dimas students were arrested Thursday after officials were tipped off that the two hacked into their school’s computer network to change students grades. They were taken into custody after a complaint was made by the school’s administrator, a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department spokesman told NBC.

The two unnamed 18-year-olds were reportedly payed as much as $500 in an effort to change some students grades. The type of grade change, positive or negative, was not commented on.

Los Angeles Fraud and Cyber Crime Bureau detectives opened an investigation on the students after being informed by a school administrator Thursday, that the students were believed to have gained unauthorized access to secure information on the school network and throughout the school’s website. Students were apprehended just hours after the graduation ceremony had concluded.

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Detectives have arrested the pair of 18-year-old students under charges of unauthorized computer access and fraud. The two will appear before a judge Monday, but til then, they remain in jail.

According to school principal Michael Kelly, roughly 120 students had their letter and percentage grade altered in the hack, but school administrators are “very confident that we have the ability to restore all of the impacted scores,” Kelly wrote in an email to parents.

District officials believe not all affected students willingly participated in the grade change hack. Officials close to the investigation believe hackers may have randomly altered student grades in an effort to “throw off” investigators, presumably creating the illusion that the breach was widespread.

Currently teachers are reviewing students grades by hand to assure accuracy, Kelly said in his email.

One detective close to the investigation said the whole process is just in its initial stages and detectives are working in collaboration with the districts administrator to identify the scope of the breach, but the process could take several weeks or even months.

Affected students interviewed had a variety of opinions, while some worried they may be falsely penalized other believed they will remain unaffected as they did not participate in the grade hack.

The method the two teens used to hack into the school’s network to change their grade was not discussed, but often times educational institutions may not be prepared for the attack, or often times teachers may even serve as the weak link.

The teens will learn of their repercussion early today as they are scheduled to appear before a judge in several hours.

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Brandon Stosh is the founder and CEO of www.freedomhacker.net. Stosh is a cyber security researcher and professional consultant who strives to provide reliable news on cyber-security based topics.

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